A Retailer’s Guide: How to Survive and Thrive When Trends Change the Market

If there’s any industry affected by changes in consumer trends, it’s the retail sector. However, matching the speed of retail’s evolution means the difference between success and failure. When consumers change, retailers must adapt according to what consumers want and how they want to get it. Changes in technology have significantly altered the way buyers make purchasing decisions and the purchases themselves, which means that today, retailers need to be more tech-savvy than ever. These tips can help make your business more adaptable to change in the retail sector.

Know the Latest Trends in Your Industry

Products on the market are always changing because consumer interests and tastes don’t stay the same. Knowing what your customers want positions you to meet their needs, increase your profits and gain credibility as an expert on what’s trending. If you have the budget, you can perform a market research campaign and learn what your target market is looking for—or even find a solution to their needs that they didn’t know existed. Keeping your eyes on key competitors in your industry and talking to your existing customers are other ways you can spot trends early on.

Test New Technologies and Buying Habits

Thanks to emerging technologies, the way customers make purchasing decisions has changed significantly. People now do much of their shopping online, where they can easily compare prices offered by different retailers. Even if they’re shopping in a physical store, consumers can whip out their smartphones to compare prices and read product reviews. Social media has even become a place where friends can offer their opinion on a purchasing decision someone is ready to make.

Because of the way retail shopping is becoming more centralized online, many forecasters have predicted the end of retail as we know it, including the extinction of brick-and-mortar stores.

While some thinkers view history as cyclical, businessman Joshua Cooper Ramo views it as evolutionary. When it comes to the current changes retail is undergoing, there is no historical precedent. In his book “The Seventh Sense,” Ramo describes our new “age of networks” in which globalization connects everything and everyone through rapidly evolving technology.

Without tapping into these new technologies and the new buying habits that come with them, it will be difficult for retailers to compete with those who are keeping up. Ecommerce and “m-commerce” (mobile commerce) are trends that aren’t going away any time soon, and all retailers need to move toward selling products online if they want to see new growth and remain competitive.

Stay Engaged with Your Customers

Technology today enables businesses to get closer to their customers than ever before. With social media, email marketing and even text (SMS) marketing, retailers can keep in touch with customers after they leave the store and keep them coming back for more. Using technology to stay engaged can help retailers find out what other products their customers need and ways they can improve customer satisfaction.

Bottom Line

Changing trends are always creating new winners in retail, because the most adaptable businesses rise above the pack while the least adaptable fall behind. With today’s emerging technologies, retailers not only need to look out for changes in what consumers want, but also in how they want to obtain it—and how fast. For example, the most competitive retailers are offering same-day deliveries for online orders.

Understanding your customers, as well as your competitors, can help you stay aware of the latest trends.

Meanwhile, using technology that makes shopping, purchasing and customer service experiences more convenient for consumers will ensure you keep up with the changing times.

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